Political Participation Strategies of the Circassian Diaspora in Turkey, by Ayhan Kaya

Mediterranean Politics, Vol.9, No.2 (Summer 2004), pp.221–239
ISSN 1362-9395 print/ISSN 1743-9418 online
Taylor & Francis Ltd

Ayhan Kaya is an associate professor in the Department of International Relations and Political Science, Istanbul Bilgi University. The author is grateful to his students, Umut Aksoy and Yenal Bilici, and their families for their support and hospitality during the fieldwork. He also thanks the Population Council MEAwards in Cairo for their financial support without which he could not have conducted the research. He would like to express his gratitude to Bianca Kaiser and Pınar Uyan for their valuable contributions and critiques. And he would like to express his thanks to the members of the Democratic Circassian Platform for their support throughout the whole journey. 

This study is an attempt to summarize the political participation strategies generated by the Circassians in Turkey since the 1970s. In depicting those strategies, the institutional channelling theory shall be used. The relevance of this theory in comparison to the class and race/ethnicity theories is that it highlights the importance of the dominant political and legal institutions shaping and limiting the migrants’ choice possibilities. The principal strategies explored in this regard are initially the ideological strategies of the revolutionaries and returnists in the 1970s, then the minority strategy carried out in the 1990s as a reaction against the majority nationalism of the 1980s, and finally the diasporic identity which has become the principal strategizing tool in the last few years. The article explores both theoretical and practical aspects of the diasporic identity with particular reference to the Circassians in Turkey.

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